Message From the President and CEO

Author: Paul J. Luna, President and CEO

March 27, 2015

With Arizona's 2015 legislative session now concluded and Florida's legislative session still underway, I am reminded of the critical role that our legislators play in ensuring our students are prepared for success in college and career. 

As a gateway to intellectual growth and diverse careers, a postsecondary education, including certificates, licenses and college degrees, opens the door to opportunities. Individuals who attain a higher level of education tend to have higher incomes, pay more taxes, are less likely to be unemployed, require fewer state supported services, save more for retirement and, in general, live longer. Postsecondary education also provides the kind of skills and knowledge that are vital to success in today's global economy including the ability to create, innovate and think critically to solve complex challenges.

Despite the clear benefits of postsecondary education, many full-time Arizona and Florida students fail to earn a credential. In Arizona, only 15 percent of full-time students earn a two-year degree within three years and less than 60 percent complete a four-year degree in six years. In Florida, 18 percent of full-time students complete a two-year degree within three years and 65 percent complete a four-year degree within six years. High remediation rates, 59 percent in Arizona and 54 percent in Florida, are a leading deterrent to postsecondary completion. 

Ensuring students have the opportunity to succeed in postsecondary education is the single most important thing we can do to ensure the future economic viability of both Arizona and Florida.   And, we must hold our elected leaders accountable to making education the most important priority.   That includes investing in education to ensure our educators and students have the resources they need to be successful.  One of Helios’ core beliefs is that education is an investment and not an expense.   The fact is that high-quality education systems are linked to strong viable communities.  That’s why an investment in education is an investment in the future economic prosperity of our communities.      

Recently, Helios sponsored a community dialogue around the importance of the Community College system in Maricopa County, Arizona, to Latino students in our state.  Throughout the discussion, it became clear that there is public will supporting the idea that postsecondary education must be accessible to all students.  In fact, a recent poll by the Morrison Institute here in Arizona, found that nearly two-thirds of Arizonans would be willing to pay more in taxes to support education. 

As we continue the education conversation in both states, we commit to give our unwavering support to ensuring all students have access to a high quality education regardless of their zip code.  We ask you to join us in making that same commitment.

Category: 10 Year Anniversary

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